Dance Marathon – 15 August 2018

Today we managed Jive, Waltz, Quickstep, Tango and Salsa. In that order.

In Jive we worked the knots out of spins 1 to 6, then had a go at spin 7. We had been practising at home so it wasn’t too bad. Spins 1 to 6 are fairly well set in muscle memory now, it’s just remembering the order that I find difficult. However Michael’s little short descriptions keep me right. It’s a work in progress!
Waltz was similar in that we were neatening up our routine and trying to get round an entire circuit of the floor without bumping into people, but when other dancers just stop right in front of you to have a wee discussion about what went wrong with their last steps, it makes it difficult for you to get any continuity in your own dance.
Quickstep was a new one today. We only got the first few steps of this dance. To be continued next week.
Tango was going over the first three moves with the dramatic head turn Boom! Boom! (You had to be there to understand that!)
Salsa was in the evening but it was still a learning experience. I learned that I wasn’t dancing some of my steps correctly, or to be more exact, I wasn’t leading the moves correctly. Even although we are helpers at these lower level classes, there are always things to pick up on.
That made just over three hours of dancing and I still didn’t complete my 10,000 steps today. Why, I do not know.

Between the ballroom class and salsa, I managed to get the PoD of the “Right Said Fred” men (the song, not the group) forming a human ladder to lift scaffolding pieces into place on a building that was being renovated in the Merchant City.

Also, I shelled half our peas and used them in a Prawn and Pea Risotto. I even used the chopped up pods to strengthen the stock for the risotto. Apparently it passed muster with Scamp. I agreed, but then I would, wouldn’t I?

Tomorrow the physio and it’s forecast for rain all day.

Waiting, waiting, waiting for the party to begin – 10 August 2018

JIC, Sim and Steffi were coming today. It’s a long drive for them and a long wait for us.

After a morning spend tidying up, Dysoning, dusting and generally making the place spick and span, we headed out in the rain to Kirkintilloch for lunch at Calders garden centre. Lunch was fine, better than a lot of places we’ve been to recently and afterwards we had a walk round the plants while the rain thumped down on the roof of the covered area. We also ventured out in the rain to rove further into the plant area. I was impressed with the way the place was set out, with very few single species arrays beside other single species arrays. Instead, most of the displays were of mixed plants, different colours, different textures and varying heights. Now that’s a refreshingly different way to show off plants. Not so good if you’re searching for a specific plant, but if you want to see what plants complement others, it’s a great idea. Unfortunately, we weren’t looking for plants today. I was looking for a new coarse rose for the watering can, specifically one that could be used to water in the nematodes I’d received in the post this morning. We found lots of ornaments, cards, books, scarves, mottos and pictures, none of which I would have in the house and none of which would be at all good for watering in the nematodes. That’s the big problem with garden centres. The outdoor part may have plenty of plants, but the indoor section is jammed full of tat!

Came home in sunshine, roseless. Then Scamp offered an old watering can with a fairly coarse plastic rose. I decided it might just do and if it didn’t, I could drill out a few of the holes with the power drill. I was right for once. It was almost coarse enough, but after drilling out most of the holes with a power drill, it was fine for the job. Or should that be coarse for the job? With the nematodes now burrowing deep into the soil to find some tasty vine weevil grubs, my work was done for the day.

After a cup of tea I grabbed my camera and went in search of some photos in St Mo’s. Found Mr Grey close enough to photograph, some ‘beasties’ and also some Rudbeckia flowering in the wild garden that volunteers planted a couple of years ago. The Rudbeckia won PoD, just like it did last year!!

Finally at about 7pm the visitors arrived and we spent the rest of the evening eating, drinking and talking. Just really catching up. Scamp spent a short time showing off our garden front and back and we admired the veg that JIC and Sim had brought with them.

Tomorrow they go to Stirling Castle and Wallace Monument and we may go to Embra.

Flânerie – 9 August 2018

Flânerie: Aimless strolling or lounging; idleness.

Sounds about right. I got the bus in to Glasgow and go to see a photography exhibition Steven Berkoff: Gorbals 1966. It was a really interesting exhibition. All monochrome prints of the Gorbals and from a time when I was just starting to take an interest in photography. Also from a time when I started work. There was a picture of one bloke walking past a bar with a wild head of hair. It could almost have been me. I’d never set foot in the Gorbals, and he looked a few years older than me, but it could almost have been me.

On my way down from the bus station, I took some shots of buildings and stuff that I found interesting. That’s what’s good about going in yourself. You have time to take what you like, reject what you don’t and you don’t feel that you’re holding anyone back. No need to go shopping if you don’t want to (I didn’t want to today). Most of the shots I took were buildings, but I did stray into the Merchant City Festival area on the way back and grabbed some photos of the goings on there. PoD went to the shiny glass building on Queen Street, or to be more accurate, the reflections of clouds on that building. Every time I see it, I see something different.

With a few photos in the bag and the inspiration of those old photos I got the bus back. While I was waiting this big loud english girl came along pushing a pram and with another one in tow. Then her dim looking partner brought another one along. She sat down and the inevitable phone came out. Then she started swearing at the phone about some “stupid fu$*in’ bitch” who had sent her an offensive message on Facebook and then immediately blocked her and how she couldn’t then tell her exactly what she thought of her. The noise level got really high and then the kids started crying, but she didn’t attempt to tone it down or pacify the kids. She just kept ranting on. Poor bloke, I thought. We’ve only got to put up with that for ten minutes, he’s got the rest of his life to face that. Luckily they stayed downstairs while I got upstairs and into the front seat so I could drive!

Scamp was working in the garden when I got home. We lifted the small pot of potatoes and only got 370g which was well down on the first lot. We think the problem was that the plants were too dry. Still, they tasted fine in Scamp’s Chicken with Rats and potatoes.

Tomorrow is to be much like today, dry and partly sunny. We may go out somewhere in the afternoon.

What a Gay day – 14 July 2018

Today we were going to Glasgow on the bus to watch the Glasgow Pride procession.

We decided to be extra lazy today and get the X3 in. That mean the least amount of walking for me. Had the traditional coffee in Nero with a shared apricot croissant to give us the extra burst of energy to fortify us for our walk around the streets. When we left Buchanan Galleries I spotted a neat bit of graffiti on the billboard for Victoria’s Secret. Well, the secret is now out Victoria. You just want us to “Buy ‘Hings” which translates to Buy Things for those of you living outside Glasgow.

With a photo in the bag, I could relax a bit and we walked down to Argyle Street – me to go to Millers Art Shop and Scamp to go to Next. Neither of us parted with our hard earned money and we met up again. As well as going to Millers, I’d also enquired of some multicoloured rainbow people where exactly the parade would be starting from and was a bit concerned when they told me they didn’t know. Hmm, this didn’t sound good. However, we needn’t have worried, the police van with blue lights flashing and the balloon truck behind at the far end of Argyle Street was a dead give-away.

The parade was a lot bigger this year, with an estimated 12,000 walkers, paraders, weirdos and general hangers-on. Right at the front was Nick the Chick (AKA Sturgeon). Scamp said Nick smiled at her. If she’d smiled at me I wouldn’t have been broadcasting that snippet of news. We watched it all from start to finish. Just about 45 minutes of lunacy, but good humoured and colourful lunacy. Contrast that with the Orange Walk last week which is also lunacy and colourful lunacy, but hardly good humoured. As well as the PoD there are some photos on Flickr of the procession and some of the characters, therein.  In total I took 361 shots today.  Most of them were taken in ‘motordrive mode’, where you just keep the shutter button pressed and hope for the best.  It works most of the time.  I’ve whittled those 361 down to 60 usable shots of which 5 made it to Flickr today.  Maybe I’ll post some more in the coming week, all being well.

After I bought a couple of watercolour paints, we went to Zizzi for lunch and were both disappointed with the quality of the food, but the two glasses of wine we had were lovely, although each of us preferred our own different choice of wine. Maybe it’s because it was white wine we were drinking instead of our traditional red, but we both agreed they were refreshing. Contrast that with two insipid pasta dishes. Oh well, a lesson learned. Should have gone to Sarti’s much better to go to a small restaurant than a chain.

Just managed get seated on the X3 going home when the bus left the stance. Good timing for once. Sat in the garden when we got back. Scamp finished off the remainder of a bottle of red we’d opened the other night and I had a bottle of cider. It was comfortably warm with a nice welcome breeze. Looks like there will be a fair amount of rain tomorrow. At last.

Don’t expect we’ll be going far tomorrow, but we’ll wait and see.

Dancing the night away – 30 June 2018

Today was the last sea day of the cruise.

It was also the last full day of the cruise and the last art class and the last salsa class. Art class was a challenging painting of two strawberries. Not real ones, but a painting from a photo as all the previous ones had been. For this last class both morning and afternoon groups were joined because there was to be an exhibition of work in the afternoon. Easa’s technique is totally different from anything I’ve used before. He works in a very detailed way. As an example, after sketching the shape of the two strawberries, our first task was to draw the individual seeds. Have you ever stopped to count the number of strawberry seeds are going into your mouth? I bet you haven’t. People laugh at me because I crunch my way through all an apple apart from the stalk. “You’ll have an apple tree growing in your stomach” I’ve heard folk say. That may be so, but do you spit out all those strawberry pips too? After painting in the seeds we had to then paint round them, not all the way round all of them because he wanted some white paper left for highlights. Then we added dark red for the shadow areas and a bit of green for the leaves. When it was finished I was quite pleased with the effect. I’m glad I was in the small morning group. I couldn’t have done with all the preening that went on from some of the afternoon group.

After lunch we joined the salsa group, but only for half a class for me because I had to go set up my paintings. Afterwards, I met back up with Scamp as the salsa class finished. We didn’t go for a swim today because the thought of packing wet swim suits was just too much. Instead we started packing, well, I started packing as Scamp had already started while I was counting strawberry seeds. It’s a sad task, packing after fourteen days, but it has to be done.

Dinner tonight was with a mixed bunch. Grumpy old woman, young couple and an older couple who were ok. The girl from the young couple was full of her own self importance. She was working for Charles Hanson the auctioneer and antiques expert. It appeared that some of his expertise had rubbed off on her as she knew everything about antiques too. Some folk just love to blow their own trumpet. I reckoned the old grumpy woman was her mother. If she was, then pity the poor bloke who married the daughter. Nothing was good enough for this battleaxe.

After dinner we went to the Tamarind club where there was to be a Salsa Hoedown with both the line dancers and the salsa dancers taking part with the whole thing being supervised by the Headliners theatre group. It was great fun. I didn’t do any of the line dancing, I forgot my cowboy hat, but I enjoyed the salsa. Scamp, of course took part in everything. It was a great end to the cruise and one that will stay in my memory.

Tomorrow we depart for our ten hour trip home.

Civitavecchia – 25 June 2018

P1050163- blogDespite all our plans and research, we decided not to go to Rome today.  Instead we’d go round Civitavecchia again.

This was definitely a bus into town day.  It’s a long walk to the town from where the ship was berthed.

As usual there was an enormous queue when we first looked, but we weren’t in a hurry.  Went for a swim in the inside/outside pool.  Finally decided to go about 11.30.  Queue by that time was minimal and we got on the bus which was just arriving.  My main task today was to get some watercolour paint.  Burnt Umber if you must know.  I had a bit left in the pan in the paintbox, but a tube bought in a holiday place always brings reminders of it on dark winter days. I remembered chancing upon a stationers shop that sold art materials the last time we were in the town and I was sure I could find it again. I did eventually find the shop, but they didn’t have any watercolour paint.  Acrylic and Oils, even some pastels and marker pens, but no watercolour.  Well, at least the shop was still there, almost where I remembered it to be.

Scamp was looking for a pizza restaurant where she remembered us having a pizza and using their WiFi the last time we were here.  Despite looking in all the places it remained elusive.  We had a beer each in a little street cafe instead and that was good enough for me.  The place hadn’t changed much, but we did find a street we hadn’t been on before and while we investigated it, I noticed the clouds were drifting in.  Scamp said she thought she’d hear a clap of distant thunder too.  Not good.  As we walked down the street, I came across an artist’s shop!  It stocked W&N paints too, but it was closed, probably for lunch.  It didn’t matter, those clouds were definitely getting blacker and closer and the thunder was coming closer too.   It was time to go back on the ship.  If I got a chance I’d come back and get the paint.  If not, then maybe tomorrow.

Just got the bus back to the ship and were inside when the rain came on, and it stayed on all afternoon.  Spent the rest of the day in the inside/outside pool swimming and soaking in the hot tubs.  I didn’t get back in to town for that paint, although the rain disappeared just before we left the port.

Dinner was in the sit down restaurant.  We had two young(ish) boys at our table.  About 18/19 years old.  Scamp and I reckoned they ‘were an item’.  It certainly seemed like it, but they were good company and didn’t seem at all fazed by talking to all these ‘oldies.’

A glass of beer and a G&T sent us off to bed.

Tomorrow it’s Alghero in Sardinia.

Memories of Civitavecchia were the thunderstorm and the new bus parking area next to the castle and the water feature that’s under construction there.  Impressive.  We didn’t even have time for a walk along the prom!

Rambling around La Rambla–22 June 2018

P1050055- blogGot off the ship to the usual scramble for the free bus to take us in to Barcelona.  Asked one of the guides how long it would take to get into town and he told us abouthe t half an hour.   By the look of the snaking queue, it would take well over that to get in to town on the bus, so we walked.  And walked. And walked.  Down past three other cruise ships, past the heli-port and over the bridge to the town.  At the top of arched bridge it became quite bouncy when buses or lorries were passing.  A bit like the suspension bridge over the Clyde at The Green, but on a much bigger scale.  It took us about half an hour, just as predicted.

Walked up La Rambla and watched the ‘Human Statues’ setting up, likewise the craft stall holders.  For once we went in to the market and walked round amazed at the variety and colour of all the fruits, meats and fish that was being sold.  Had a beer in a wee square just outside the market and then continued up La Rambla.  There was a heavy police presence on the street and the now familiar army personnel carrying automatic weapons.  I’d guess with the tensions in this area with Catalan extremists, this is inevitable.  It didn’t seem to put off the hawkers and ‘lookie-lookie’ men selling fridge magnets and fans from their white bed sheets on the ground.

At the top of the street we went through the Place de Catalunia.  I hope I spelled that correctly.  Without any WiFi here that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, it’s difficult to do the normal Google checks! Out along a street, still heading in the same direction I got today’s PoD which is an old man sketching a lovely perspective view of the street.  He was working on a full sheet of watercolour paper, drawing with a sharpened piece of bamboo cane, dipping it in to an ink bottle he held in his other hand.  He seemed to be totally engrossed in his work and although he answered my questions, only gave short answers.  Beautiful work.

I wanted to get back to La Ramba to find the famous Miro mosaic.  It was just where we’d turned off Rambla to go in to the market.  Found it and photographed it.  Just before that I’d done a 15 minute sketch of a wee church in a side street.  Not nearly as good as the old man’s sketch, not even in the park.

Crossed out of Rambla and past a flea market we’d visited when we got to the town, then Scamp found the place where we could get the bus back to the ship.  Don’t think I could have faced another walk back!

Dinner tonight was with a young couple on their honeymoon, a doctor who had broken his neck while at college and was paralysed from the neck down and his carer who we presume was also a nurse.  All great company.

Missed the show, so early bed.

Dancin’, but No’ Dancin’ aye, Dancin’ – 13 June 2018

Confused? You will be.

Today we went dancin’, although I had been warned not to by my experts. However, we had agreed between ourselves that a half hour of ballroom wouldn’t do me very much harm. It didn’t. I’d told Michael that I was crocked and that I’d sit out the jive. He agreed.

We danced the waltz quite well, but Michael pointed out where we were making it too simple, and then it was so obvious that we were cutting corners. It always is obvious once you have it pointed out. It’s the turns, even in the waltz that are causing the problem with my knee. I’m sure about it now.

On to the jive and I sat out. However, it made the class unbalanced with an odd number and, as he had already said he was just going over the first four spins again <This should really have a ‘Technospeak’ warning, shouldn’t it!>. As he was just going over the first four spins again to make sure we were confident with them, I felt I could walk through them without causing myself too much discomfort. It was easy! I even managed to dance the routine (quite badly). So we now have a couple of weeks off before we get a chance to dance again and it will be Ballroom Tango when we go back, instead of waltz.

Walking back from the dancin’ was where I saw the motorbike or scooter to be more exact, with a wide empty space behind the handlebars. It was Scamp who noticed that there was no seat and then we both realised at the same time that this was a scooter for a disabled person in a wheelchair. What a brilliant idea. This was no Mobility Scooter, this was a scooter for a biker in a wheelchair. Not only that, this was a vehicle with street cred and attitude. It even had a handbrake! How smart is that! There was no competition, this had to be PoD.

Portrait class tonight was more interesting because it was our first chance to use colour. It was going well until someone noticed that the elderly gentleman, Jim, who was sitting for us had gone a strange colour and seemed to be on the point of passing out. We got him off his stool and on to a chair, but he was determined to continue and posed again for the second sitting in the chair. I was quite pleased with my last night’s work in the class. It’s not been a wonderful class, with little in the way of actual tuition, but it’s given me the chance to measure my skills against others like myself. Learned a bit about where all the bits of a face go(!) and gained some confidence in my drawing. Still don’t want to do a full life class. I remember saying to the principal teacher of art at school that I couldn’t handle figure work (nudes) and he told me with a wink, “You’re not really meant to handle them!”

Another blood letting tomorrow, then we’re hoping to face the stormy weather and go for lunch in the West End.

Beer – 12 June 2018

Today me and the Auld Guys were having lunch, a liquid lunch.

It started with breakfast and a couple of paracetamol (other pain killing, anti-inflammatory medicines are available). When I got up proper, an hour later, my knee was sore. Went for a walk around the house and then phoned the physio, only to find out that today was his day off. Left a message and went back to resting my knee again while Scamp was off getting her hair cut. She’d left me with the firm instructions to wait for her return and she’d give me a lift to the train station for the more relaxed run in to Glasgow. Not driving today because this was the first UBI club meeting in over a year and ‘drink would be taken.’ We all know what that means. If you get the sniff of a pint of lager, that’s enough to put you over the limit, I mean if you even see a bottle of beer, that’s you risking points on your license. Today we were going to do more than look or smell, we were going to drink the stuff.

Got in to the HorseShoe Bar in Drury Street about half an hour late and had missed the first round, but I swiftly caught up. It’s a skill well learned. A couple of rounds later we had caught up on all the gossip and were ready for lunch. For lunch we were going upstairs to the ‘restaurant’ where we’d have the three course meal for a fiver. It’s not haute cuisine, it’s just hot cuisine. Good filling stodge. Two fiery chicken strips as a starter, followed by ham, egg and chips (wafer thin ham, one egg and about fifteen chips).  Everyone else had the almost obligatory fish ‘n’ chips. Dessert had to be Apple Betty and ice cream. I don’t know who Betty is, or was, but she makes a great apple sponge. After that, we dispersed. Colin was first to go, then Ray, and that left the Fantastic Four; Jack, Val, Fred and me. In a break with tradition, we went for a coffee rather than more alcohol to finish the day and ambled up West Nile Street to Laboratorio Espresso where we had a coffee, and I got the return call from the physio.

I’ve had work done on my shoulder by this guy and Scamp has had her ankle repaired. I trust him He doesn’t tell you to have a full consultation if it’s not necessary. For the second time in a year he talked me through what I should be doing about my knee and what I shouldn’t be doing too (dancing). It seems that my three professionals; JIC, the nurse and the physio are in agreement. REST, ICE, ELEVATION. Much like the acronym RICE, just missing out the C for COMPRESSION because there is no swelling. I thanked him for phoning on his day off and for his advice then went back and enjoyed my coffee that bit more. Good strong coffee it was too.

After that it was time to shake hands and head for home. Jack and Val were getting the bus, Fred and I were getting the train. Scamp picked me up at the station but Fred managed to catch the bus that drops him almost at his door. We’d all agreed to meet up again soon, hopefully sooner than a year from now DV.

PoD today was taken in the garden. It’s the first of the Boogie peas to sprout and it looks as if it’s ready to grab hold of something to haul itself up.

No Jive for me tomorrow. Too may experts telling me the same story. It looks like a wild day with high winds and rain, but maybe not until evening.  May go to the Forge and change my shoes, providing I can find somebody who “Does the Web”!

The Web – 11 June 2018

I had an appointment with the nurse today to review my blood results. Never much fun.

Before that I was booked to drive Scamp to the hospital for what turned out to be her last appointment. She’s now officially signed off.

After I dropped her back at the house, I grabbed my new shoes and took them for a run to Glasgow Fort to return them or exchange them for a half size bigger. Got there to find it wasn’t a Clarks outlet store, so they couldn’t process them. If you Google “Clarks outlet stores Glasgow” the map shows three pins. One of which is The Fort. If I’d read the text I’d have discovered it wasn’t an outlet. Why is the pin there on a map showing Outlet stores? Don’t know. The manager wasn’t that helpful, he just kept telling he “I don’t do the web”. Almost like “I don’t do drugs”. Maybe he should “Do the web”. (Maybe he should do drugs too.) What he should do is work on his customer skills. He just wanted to wash his hands of me and told me I should write to The Web and complain that they were showing the wrong information. Does anyone know the address for The Web? Maybe I just write my complaint on vellum, put it in an envelope, seal it with sealing wax and address it to:

The Web
Internet Land
The World

I should write to Clarks and suggest they give this man a computer and a modem then get someone to sit down with him and explain what Tim Berners-Lee invented. I bet he doesn’t even have electricity in his house. You should go to Clarks in The Fort, ask for the manager and say “Hi. You don’t know me, I’m The Web.”

Drove home blazing, but not quite incandescent. I didn’t know then that I was on the wrong. That’s when the incandescence started. Calmed down when Scamp left to go to Marjie’s Afternoon Tea. Sat and drew a face or two from Croquis Cafe. Just to show that I’d done some homework for Wednesday.

Saw the nurse and she reassured me that my stats were ok. Nothing to worry about, and she was very impressed JIC, that you’d convinced me I had to take paracetamol for about a week before I’d see any improvement. The problem with my knee is most likely a torn ligament. Painful, but not serious.

Drove to Salsa but didn’t want to dance in case I made my knee any worse. What I did do was help out with Irene’s class who are Level 1 week 6 so, fairly simple stuff that doesn’t involve dangerous twisting. Certainly couldn’t face the Advanced class so I took my leave and went for a walk around Kelvinbridge. Got the PoD there which started out as a boring, dull shot of the actual Kelvin Bridge, then dunked it in a bucket of ON1 (my newest photo-processor) and out came a faded, sepia toned aged print.

Going to meet the Auld Guys for beers and lunch tomorrow, hopefully.